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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Sweet Damage

ISBN: 9780553808063
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: 12/02/14
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
From the internationally bestselling author of Beautiful Malice comes a captivating novel of psychological suspense about love and friendship, loyalty and betrayal—perfect for readers of S. J. Watson and Lisa Unger.
Tim Ellison feels lucky when he finds a cheap place to rent in his dream location, close to the restaurant where he works as a chef, and even closer to his favorite surf spot at Sydney’s popular Manly Beach. But the cavernous house is infused with a sense of foreboding, and his furnished room there comes with a condition: he must look after the mansion’s mysterious owner.
Anna London is withdrawn and frail, a twenty-year-old with the inexplicable demeanor and habits of an elderly woman. From her grand home on the hill, she can see the city and the ocean, but she can never leave. Her anxieties keep her locked inside, unable to handle the outside world.
As Tim settles in, he struggles to get to know the person who depends on him for food and care. Slowly, Anna reveals glimpses of herself—her history, her sadness, her crippling fears. And then strange things begin to happen: loud banging in the night, unexplained figures in the shadows, sinister messages on the walls. Tim is startled to find that even as his unease about the house grows, he is increasingly attracted to its hauntingly beautiful owner. But is Anna London someone to pity . . . someone to love . . . or someone to fear?
Taut and intense, Sweet Damage is an addictive novel about vulnerability, obsession, and duplicity, with a modern Gothic twist.

My Review

A special thank you to Random House - Bantam Dell and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
SWEET DAMAGE, by sensational Australian author, Rebecca James is a chilling and gripping twisted psychological thriller of obsession, friendship, and betrayal. OMG, intense; definitely does some damage to your nerves!
Tim Ellison, a bit of a drifter needs an inexpensive place to rent, and when he finds an old mansion in a perfect location near the restaurant (owned by this father), where he works as a chef and as an added bonus, near his favorite surf spot at Sydney-Manly Beach, he cannot believe his luck. Prior to moving, he was crashing on the sofa of his old girlfriend, Lilla, and he was tired of her bugging him about making something of himself.
He wonders why no one has taken this room as the house is enormous and impressive, surrounded by lush green gardens. Tim is blown away with Fairview, a stunning huge sandstone mansion built in 1890 with the most spectacular view and grand throughout.
Delighted with his new digs; however, one catch- he is required to look after the mansion’s mysterious owner, Anna. (Landlady/housemate is young, pretty, grief stricken, agoraphobic, odd, has anxiety/panic attacks, a recluse, which has not left the house in six months).
Young and fragile, Anna London, owner of Fairview inherited the house after her parents were killed in a tragic car accident three years ago. She is trapped inside and Tim is responsible for getting her groceries and shopping, and he cannot comprehend anyone who does not bask in the outdoors and nature. All is well, until strange and odd things begin happening, which are rather disturbing, and then he begins questions his decision.
"Anna feels with months of solitude and silence she still does not want to remember, where remembering is like pulling on the scar, tearing the stitches apart, exposing the gaping black hold where her heart used to be."
As the two grow closer living together, Tim wonders if he can be attracted to her and does Anna dare believe she can have a normal life with him? Flashing back and forth we hear from both voices, Anna and Tim for a cautionary tale of love, secrets, hidden agendas, obsession, and betrayal.
There are three distinct personalities portrayed.
Tim goes with the flow, a free spirit, wants to be happy, unambitious, not very driven, or lover of possessions, and very trusting and naïve'.
Lila is self-centered, outgoing, social, flirty, aggressive, greedy, material minded, and the most annoying person (wanted to strangle her). If you read Beautiful Malice, you will be reminded of Alice.
Anna is sweet, guarded, private, vulnerable, sensitive, and grief/guilt stricken, and feels she is a burden to everyone due to her mental condition.
Then you have the lawyers Fiona and Marcus, friends of Anna’s, which will keep you guessing with their connection. Not likable characters.
As Anna and Tim’s stories connect, they grow into different characters than when the book begins, making for a powerful, mysterious, and complex Gothic style chilling tale, driven by greed; when things are not as they seem, leaving you questioning: Do you really know who you can trust and are parts of your life planned by manipulative and obsessive minds?
This was my first book by James and was so intrigued, immediately purchased the audiobook of her debut, for another heart pounding suspense thriller with some troubled obsessive characters. If you enjoyed Beautiful Malice you will be assured to love dark and mysterious, SWEET DAMAGE (nice front cover-very fitting).
Would recommend to those who enjoy addictive, spine tingling and engrossing young adult, new adult, psychological thrillers, and twisted drama, where sickos may be disguised as your friends with an agenda all their own. Watch your back . ..
James has a creative imagination and a way of building suspense and holding back just enough to keep you turning and glued to the page. Look forward to reading more from this talented author.
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